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Wisconsin doctors call on President Trump to cancel rallies

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 5:43 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Medical professionals called for president trump to reconsider hosting rallies in the area this Saturday.

“Holding mass rallies that attract thousands of people while COVID-19 cases go through the roof will put people’s health at risk,” said Dr. Bob Freedland, an ophthalmologist in La Crosse.

“Holding rallies in these communities right now would be reckless and irresponsible,” said Dr. Ann Helms, a neurologist in Milwaukee.

Both Wisconsin-based doctors are associated with the Committee to Protect Medicare, which is a nationwide group focused on supporting Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.

They called for President Trump to cancel his rallies. Since the group’s press conference Thursday morning, President Trump’s campaign moved the La Crosse event to Janesville saying the change was not COVID-related; neither event was canceled.

Both Dr. Freedland and Dr. Helms say their recommendation to the President isn’t political.

“I come at this as a healthcare provider,” said Dr. Helms. “I don’t care what your political stance is. We know masks work, we know mass gatherings create contact that spreads this disease.”

The White House Press Secretary, when responding to a question about the president holding rallies this weekend, argues the criticism is political. She stated doctors have shown support for social justice protests but not rallies.

“There really seems to be two standards of health in this country, one for Trump supporters one for everyone else,” said Kayleigh McEnany. “The president believes that people have a first amendment right to political speech. He’s having a rally, people can choose whether or not to come.”

During a state briefing, Chief Medical Officer of the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases Dr. Ryan Westergaard said while hosting events outside with social distancing and masks is safer, it doesn’t mean large gatherings are safe.

“The best response is to not have gatherings at all,” said Dr. Westergaard. “Right now particularly as we’ve discussed that transmission is so widespread, overall the level of community spread is higher than it’s ever been. Because these strategies aren’t 100 percent effective it’s in all our interest to stay home as much as possible and make the number of people we have close contact with as small as possible.”

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